Over-involved or just trouble letting go - 17/18 year olds

(35 Posts)
beelights Fri 06-Nov-15 10:37:00

Hello,

Long winded. If any parents have experience of teens on the cusp of 18 would really appreciate advice.

Background on DD 17, nearly 18: She asked to go out last night and stay with a friend on a college night. She had a reasoned suggestion (only drop off coursework day at college today and then study in library). She had been out the night before to the pub and come back at 12.30 instead of 11.30 (due to designated driver going via late night Maccy D's). She is spending more time out socialising, though the rule is no overnights during the week. She appears to be managing her work load and I have heard no warnings from college. She is a mix of mature but also can be a toddler (if you know what I mean). She is bright but is not that interested in education and doesn't really try to the best of her ability. She managed 10 reasonable GCSEs with a few As and Bs, and is aiming for BCC grade A levels to go to Uni for a course after year out (not holding my breath for her actually going to Uni as I think she isn't really suited to academic life).

Anyway, I am finding it hard to get the balance between letting her go/learn to fail/plan her own work/choose how she socialises etc with keeping an eye out and 'parenting'. For example, I cook a meal for the three of us (her twin bro) and she may text to say she is not hungry and is going to see friend and back 8pm so don't cook. I ask her to come back as I have had no notice and food will waste (also some deluded idea that we should have family meals...). She gets fed up and says she should be able to choose to eat alone etc....Or today, for example, after staying out the night at friend's, I phone at 10am to check she is actually in college. I hear myself asking about whether she has done XYZ coursework, then repeating question about what her plans are. I worry because her room is a tip and I see college files all over the floor with notes disorganised. In effect, I keep kind of nagging. She tells me to let her handle it and she is in the library trying to work. She is kind of work-shy, but has always managed to do last minute cramming. Her mocks were pretty dire though. I feel like the nagging is just driving a wedge between us and it is time to let her get on with her life, but at the same time I feel I can't just let her drift off into her preferences for what appears to be prioritising socialising and Facebook...She is also still borrowing "Just a fiver" and has not got a job, which is also a topic of nagging. And I miss our evenings watching DVDs together. We have had a couple of evenings watching old Dibleys recently and it was lovely.

This is soooo long. If anyone has read this far then you deserve a medal. Thanks for letting me off-load. And if you have any advice or experience of late teenage kids, all is welcome. And don't get me started on my silent, grunty, secretive DS (also 17/18 cusp)....

xx Bee

itsthecircleoflife Fri 06-Nov-15 10:50:53

Tey are nearly adults, and capable of making their own decisions. I know its hard not to have a set idea about what you want your children to be- but it just might not happen.

With that said, it sounds like your daughter beeds to respect you a bit more. If your not happy giving iut the 5ers- stop. If you keep giving why would she stop asking? I doubt you would.

aginghippy Fri 06-Nov-15 10:53:38

I feel like the nagging is just driving a wedge between us and it is time to let her get on with her life

Yes, you need to step back. Not easy, I know. My feeling is that once they are in 6th form, parents really need to butt out. The nagging isn't going to motivate her to do her work. It's not easy, but I just keep my mouth shut regarding college work.

She is a mix of mature but also can be a toddler good description of teenagers. As with toddlers, ignore the tantrums and praise the good behaviour.

TantrumsAndBalloons Fri 06-Nov-15 10:56:25

I don't provide money for my nearly 17 and nearly 18 year olds social life, they both have part time jobs plus monthly pocket money so they have to survive on that

Madlizzy Fri 06-Nov-15 10:57:23

A few ground rules such as giving notice that she'll not be home for tea, letting you know if she'll be late and helping out in the house are a good start. Texting you to say that she's alive and made it to college is also fine. The odd "are you up to date with work" is fine too. Anything else, it's probably time to step back a bit.

HardWorkButTheyMakeMeSmile Fri 06-Nov-15 10:58:20

Yes. I have one of these. It's hard isn't it.

I go with the policy of keeping my beak out of coursework/college unless the college come to me with an issue. They did once and I then restricted all evenings out until I had seen the completed work and did a lot of questioning about it until it was done. ??

That seems to hammer home the point that he can deal with it effectively himself or I will step in and we will deal with it together. From that point he has pretty much kept on top of it surprisingly, so now I just ask occasionally how things are going and if he is on top of things.

He does have a part time job though so that's not too much of an issue for us. I still pass him the odd tenner now and again just for fun as I can see he's trying really hard and rarely requests anything. Before he had a job it did bother me for the constant requests, just a couple of quid, just a fiver, just need bus money. Each time it was handed over it was with a demand to know what he had done about finding work since the last request for money. I swear he only got a job to shut me up but he does now love his independence so I try really hard not to restrict it unless completely necessary.

I also remind myself that I was living independently from my 17th birthday and didn't make great choices so I would rather he had room to make mistakes and still have support to fix things. It's a steep learning curve when your on your own and they are allowed to just leave and go it alone at this stage so I try really really hard to find the right balance.

Floralnomad Fri 06-Nov-15 10:58:56

I'm a parent of few rules and by that age mine was text / ring to say whether or not he would be in / where he was / what time he would be in . That said I never had bedtimes or limited screen time etc so my DC were well used to self regulating .

HardWorkButTheyMakeMeSmile Fri 06-Nov-15 11:04:39

Oh and I would let go of the mealtimes together every night. I cook and plate it up up to be eaten when they are hungry. I do expect to be informed if they are eating elsewhere so that food doesn't get wasted.

Due to work schedules there is often clashes that can't be helped. I do ask for one day a week to be mutually arranged for a nice sit down meal together and that keeps me satisfied.

wickedwaterwitch Fri 06-Nov-15 11:08:31

Hi, I have some views, ignore if no good!

It's their studying and my view is that if they don't want to work you can't make them. I can provide support, be encouraging, coach them, whatever, but I can't make my son do his school work. So I let it go. (Having done the coaching, had the conversations about how will you get into uni with DDD etc)

Food, I would stop doing family meals tbh. But I've got an 18yo who cooks for himself so that's easy for me to say. My younger child either has what we have or has to get herself something.

I think the advice is similar to that for toddlers: pick your battles. I will argue about:

Being driven by unsuitable teen friends
Behaving badly towards me / other people
Leaving my my kitchen a mess
What I'll spend money on or not

I won't argue about:

Bedtimes
Homework / school work
Parties at weekends
The state of his room (not bad but plates, urgh)

I also try to remember that some arguments are because he NEEDS to have the debate - he's not sure what he thinks but knows I'll disagree but he needs to check. So sometimes I'm sounding board disguised as row.

wickedwaterwitch Fri 06-Nov-15 11:10:05

And if she's supposed to be in at 11.30 but is in at half twelve the curfew is working. Without it she might not be in at all.

wickedwaterwitch Fri 06-Nov-15 11:11:19

Oh also, try to do some nice stuff with her - I take ds out sometimes, just us 2, it's good and helps.

wickedwaterwitch Fri 06-Nov-15 11:12:45

Also might an apprenticeship or job be an option? Instead of uni?

MrsJayy Fri 06-Nov-15 11:12:51

I think letting you know she isnt coming home for tea or whatever is good manners really i wouldnt insist though it just keeps family communications up iyswim the rest is/was self regulated though but they were not allowed to take the piss.

beelights Fri 06-Nov-15 11:22:37

Ahhh, you are wonderful people for reading my long post. And your advice really confirms that I suspect I am holding on too tight (and handing out too many fivers). She is generally good at texting in, asking for college help when she needs it (eg UCAS statement), cooking her own food when needed and does chores as asked. We still manage days out together occasionally (though I end up feeling my wallet is lighter from Primark/Costa 'essentials' lol). But I think my over-involvement has made her more prone to needing other-motivating rather than self-motivating for some things, like the job. I am going to count to 10 before I say anything for a while and check my MN advice....

I really appreciate all of your feedback. I was concerned I wasn't getting perspective on this and you have really helped.

Bee
xx

wickedwaterwitch Fri 06-Nov-15 11:24:23

Also, get Whatsapp, it's very useful for instant communication ' are you coming home soon?' Kind of thing. Good luck.

stolemyusername Fri 06-Nov-15 11:28:04

I have one of these too, she's just discovering her freedom and loves it as much as I hate it. She's also my PFB, and the eldest of all of my friends children so it sometimes feels like I'm going ahead blindly.

We have arguments about college work, having fun seems much more important right now (I suppose at 17 it is), she's also just changed courses to something I feel is an 'easier' option but I'm biting my tongue.

DH is struggling with the lack of basic courtesy more than me, small things like not texting to let us know where she is/when she'll be home (if she'll be home), and treating the house like a hotel and not helping out are causing arguments. Sometimes I feel stuck in the middle of them as I can see it from both sides.

On the teenager scale, she's really not too bad - but if she'd have been a teenager before a cute toddler, she would be an only child confused

MrsJayy Fri 06-Nov-15 11:37:44

My eldest was still inschool 17/18 we dont have 6th form so on a school night it was expected for her to be in at a decent time it worked out between 10.30/11 . Dd2 is rarely out during the week anyway so it doesnt really mattee but i still expect i wont be in text saves you worrying really.

beelights Fri 06-Nov-15 11:46:26

Hi Stole,

It's the erratic 'mature, then toddler' that catches me out. So reasoned and sensible, then suddenly having a meltdown in the middle of an art gallery (needed food and blood sugar had dropped). And for sanity I have had to insist they help out with set chores, even if minor, just to reinforce the fact it is a shared house and to share the workload. I bite my tongue when the bath is semi-cleaned or the hoovering looks like it was done by a blind llama though, as long as they keep contributing something to the household running (cooking odd family meals, chores, bins out). But then I also remember that on her DofE hike, she carried two backpacks because her friend was sick, and that she has a lot of integrity and kindness.

Her college work sort of saddens me as she was a super-bright A* kind of child until she was about 14, but I am letting that go as, although I think keeping it up would have given her more options, I know she can make of life what she will doing other things.

When I am feeling glum, I watch the Harry Enfield Kevin the Teenager sketches. :-)

Now to decide how to get used to the fact my DS has grown his fingernails into goth-like claws........

x

beelights Fri 06-Nov-15 11:51:47

Hi Stole,

It's the erratic 'mature, then toddler' that catches me out. So reasoned and sensible, then suddenly having a meltdown in the middle of an art gallery (needed food and blood sugar had dropped). And for sanity I have had to insist they help out with set chores, even if minor, just to reinforce the fact it is a shared house and to share the workload. I bite my tongue when the bath is semi-cleaned or the hoovering looks like it was done by a blind llama though, as long as they keep contributing something to the household running (cooking odd family meals, chores, bins out). But then I also remember that on her DofE hike, she carried two backpacks because her friend was sick, and that she has a lot of integrity and kindness.

Her college work sort of saddens me as she was a super-bright A* kind of child until she was about 14, but I am letting that go as, although I think keeping it up would have given her more options, I know she can make of life what she will doing other things.

When I am feeling glum, I watch the Harry Enfield Kevin the Teenager sketches. :-)

Now to decide how to get used to the fact my DS has grown his fingernails into goth-like claws........

x

TantrumsAndBalloons Fri 06-Nov-15 11:54:52

Is she in her first year of sixth form college?

I know dd, when she started her first year, was all about the freedom and the fun. Which was great for her- not so great for her schoolwork. She failed maths AS and it has made her realise that she needs to put effort into this- she's been much more motivated and spend most of her free time studying now

beelights Fri 06-Nov-15 13:46:28

Hi Tantrums,

She is in her second year now. The first I think she just skated through and her A/S were pretty poor - CCDE. She dropped the E subject and seems to be more motivated and organised this year and has mentioned that she has had a few A grade essay marks. From the outside looking in it feels about balance. Last year she was definitely finding her freedom and did skip lessons etc. I haven't had a letters from college this year so far....

rogueantimatter Fri 06-Nov-15 17:23:12

I had one of those too..... Now 19 Sounds very similar to your DD.

I have another who's 16. So difficult worrying that they'll flunk their exams. I unfortunately did nag the older one and it had the opposite effect. She did a strange thing though in that she'd ask if she could go x,y or z. I'd say 'Are you sure? There's x on tomorrow' or whatever and she'd say 'It'll be fine'. I'd tell her I didn't think it was a good idea but it was up to her..... She'd go anyway.

She did better than expected in her final exams and is now doing a performance-based course. I still worry about her as it is a very demanding course (she's in her second year) and she still doesn't have much of a work ethic. I'm not sure it was the best choice for her.

I wouldn't like randomly not showing for dinner, but my teens do virtually no chores so maybe pick your battles with that one. Although MrsJayy is right that it's only good manners to text. That's what adults do after all.

The 16YO doesn't study much either but hopes for excellent grades (sigh). He lives pretty quietly so far. Recently I pressured him into agreeing to have a tutor for one subject once every three weeks on the grounds that I never ask him to do anything, unlike many parents he knows. He did acknowledge that. I'm mostly managing not to nag this time round with him but it's very difficult.

Like you say, it's finding a balance isn't it? When they're otherwise nice, decent people they're doing a lot 'right' but.... aaagh

beelights Fri 06-Nov-15 18:10:41

Rogue - it sounds like you could have my kids lol! I suspect the answer in the long-run is to keep a good relationship with them over and above nagging/instilling our 'wisdom'....But I feel that sometimes the desire to stay friends with my kids also has its issues and can lead to me being walked over at times.

x

notquiteruralbliss Sat 07-Nov-15 09:44:30

I think people have given good advice on here. Older teens are close to going off to uni / starting work so, if not doing so already, they need to learn to manage their own lives

Unless asked, I don't get involved with school, homework etc and I don't (even with younger DCs) impose curfews, restrict screen time etc. However, I do expect DCs to tell me if they are not going to be home or if they think they will need a lift home late and to muck in when needed to stop the house descending into chaos.

They have an allowance and sometimes work as well. I might choose to pay if I take them out for coffee or pay for large but essential things, but generally they fund their own non essentials and manage their own money.

Also, for what it's worth OP, at DCs school, a student with AS levels of CCD would be predicted BBC at A2. They generally expect them to go up a grade.

Ravingloony Sat 07-Nov-15 13:51:20

I was pleased to find this thread. My dd16 has just started 6th form and its all about her social life. She is doing just enough to get by and no more. For my own sanity I have to step back and leave her to it but its so hard. Im just sick of all the arguing and the bad atmosphere so I am trying not to get involved which has made things a lot better between us.
She's a bright kid but so lazy. Lazy in studies and at home where she does nothing. She is also never in for meals and I just put something aside for her when she gets in.
I'm just hoping she matures a bit in the next year and realises you have to work if you want anything. She is not daft, she knows this, but wont do anything about it. I've told her that once she leaves college (highly unlikely to go to uni) she must contribute financially to the household, whether she is on benefits or working. She was a bit shock about that.
Its good to know that her behaviour is not uncommon and I'm not the only one with these issues especially as I seem to be surrounded by smug people with "perfect kids".

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